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Effects of Student-led Undergraduate Research Experience on Learning and Attitudes toward Engineering in an Introductory Materials Science Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.509.1 - 25.509.17



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Paper Authors


Raymundo Arroyave Texas A&M University

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Raymundo Arroyave is an Assistant Professor with the Mechanical Engineering Department. He also belongs to the faculty of the Interdisciplinary Materials Science program. He received his Ph.D. degree in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His teaching interests include undergraduate courses on materials science and numerical methods and graduate courses on thermodynamics of materials science. He has more than 60 publications (peer-reviewed journals and proceedings) on the general field of computational materials science.

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Miladin Radovic Texas A&M University


Jefferey E. Froyd Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Jeffrey E. Froyd is a TEES Research Professor and the Director of Faculty Climate and Development at Texas A&M University. He served as Project Director for the Foundation Coalition, an NSF Engineering Education Coalition in which six institutions systematically renewed, assessed, and institutionalized their undergraduate engineering curricula, and extensively shared their results with the engineering education community. He co-created the integrated, first-year curriculum in science, engineering, and mathematics at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, which was recognized in 1997 with a Hesburgh Award Certificate of Excellence. He has authored or co-authored more than 70 papers on engineering education in areas ranging from curricular change to faculty development. He is collaborating on NSF-supported projects for renewal of the mechanics of a materials course, improving preparation of students for Calculus I, and systemic application of concept inventories. He is currently an ABET Program Evaluator and a Senior Associate Editor for the Journal on Engineering Education.

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Effects of Student-led Undergraduate Research Experience on Learning and Attitudes toward Engineering in an Introductory Materials Science CourseOf the fourteen grand challenges for engineering identified by the National Academy ofEngineering, at least half require design and development of new materials. Since materials arecritical technology enablers, introductory materials science courses are fundamentally importantfor all engineering majors. Unfortunately, traditional content-based approaches to teachingmaterials science present large collections of facts and ideas, but do not emphasize how toorganize and apply them. Therefore, students find it difficult to construct and organizeknowledge that enables them to apply content to real-world problems. To address this problemundergrad research should be part of the engineering curriculum.Recently, we restructured some sections of the introductory materials science course required forall sophomore mechanical, industrial and nuclear engineering majors at a Tier-1 PublicUniversity using student-active pedagogies and cooperative learning theories. Hake1 has shownthat interactive learning experiences can improve student learning. Also a combination of activecooperative learning strategies found to be effective in large introductory classes by Beichner etal.2 To provide experience with the process of materials science research, the restructured courseemphasized undergraduate research projects that were proposed and implemented by studentteams. Given the new approach, the key question is the degree to which the change has improvedstudent learning and attitudes. Student learning has been described in terms of conceptualunderstanding and scientific reasoning. Conceptual understanding is assessed using the materialsscience concept inventory3. Scientific reasoning is assessed by evaluating the proposal, progressreports, and final report. Student attitudes, including inclinations to pursue careers in engineeringand material science, are assessed using Pittsburgh Freshman Engineering Attitudes Scale. Thepaper reports on the results that have been obtained during fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters.Student teams selected their own research topics relevant to course subjects. To ensure for agood learning experience their progress was monitored and they were evaluated by theirprofessor and their peers thoroughly for their work. Scientific Reasoning test were administratedat the beginning of the semester to find out whether students had the necessary reasoning skillsand to demonstrate the generalizability of the findings. Students average Scientific ReasoningTest scores were high enough for conducting undergrad research activities and were notsignificantly different than national average for undergraduate engineering students. StudentsMaterials Concept Inventory scores indicating their subject knowledge increased significantlyfrom pretest scores at the post test. Student Pittsburgh Freshman Engineering Attitudes Scalescores didn’t show a significant change between pre and post administration indicating attitudetowards engineering stayed the same.References1. R. R. Hake, 1998 - Interactive-Engagement vs. Traditional Methods: A Six-Thousand-StudentSurvey of Mechanics Test Data for Introductory Courses, American Journal of Physics, 66, pp.64-74.2. R. J. Beichner, J. M. Saul, R. J. Allain, D. L. Deardorff and D. S. Abbott, 2000 - Introductionto SCALE-UP: Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment University Physics,Proceedings of the 2000 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education,pp. 2338.3. S. Krause, J. C. Decker and R. Griffin, 2003- Using a Materials Concept Inventory to AssessConceptual Gain In Introductory Materials Engineering Courses, 33rd ASEE/IEEE Frontiers inEducation Conference, Boulder, CO, pp. T3D-7/11.

Arroyave, R., & Radovic, M., & Froyd, J. E. (2012, June), Effects of Student-led Undergraduate Research Experience on Learning and Attitudes toward Engineering in an Introductory Materials Science Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21267

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